Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times from the Southern Border:
. . . .
In addition to the asylum seekers returned to Mexico to await their hearings, more than 26,000 are on waiting lists to enter U.S. border crossings and claim asylum, according to Human Rights Watch. Many on the lists are from Central America, but in recent weeks, large groups have been arriving from rural areas of Mexico’s interior, fleeing drug cartel violence.
The camp at the foot of the bridge in Matamoros has grown to hold more than a thousand migrants, most camped in scores of tents. Many have children and babies, and meals and water are sporadic, provided by volunteers.
“This Remain in Mexico program is a complete disaster,” Castro said after touring the camp next to the Rio Grande, where he saw migrants bathing near half a dozen crosses honoring those who drowned this summer while trying to make the dangerous crossing. “People should not be living like this.”
As Castro left the river, migrants standing in the reeds called to him in Spanish:
“Our children are sick!” said one man.
“We’ve been here for months!” said another.
“Our next court date isn’t until January!” said a woman.
“I’m sorry,” Castro replied in Spanish. “I know you’re suffering.”
Castro, who served as Housing and Urban Development secretary and San Antonio mayor, isn’t the first candidate to join asylum seekers at the border. In late June, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas met with migrants returned to Mexico at a shelter in Juarez. Days later, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker accompanied five pregnant women in the Remain in Mexico program across the bridge from Juarez to El Paso.
Castro called on the Trump administration to end the Remain in Mexico policy, noting that he had met several vulnerable migrants who should not have been returned, including a woman who was seven months pregnant.
“This president has helped create a humanitarian crisis,” he said. “People are living in squalor.”
By 5 p.m., all 12 asylum seekers who had crossed with Castro had been returned to Mexico.
“I feel so defeated,” said Rey, a 35-year-old Cuban who had joined the group only to find himself back in Matamoros by evening.
Dany was upset when she was returned to the camp at dusk. As migrants gathered, she told them that the U.S. official who had interviewed her by phone had been unsympathetic.
“I told him I was in danger in Matamoros. That didn’t matter to him,” she said. “There’s no asylum for anyone … the system is designed to end with us leaving.
Read Molly’s complete report at the link.
LGBTQ, sick, disabled, pregnant, the cruelty of the “Let ‘Em Die In Mexico” program touted by Big Mac and his flunkies knows no bounds.
One can only hope that someday, somewhere, in this world or the next, “Big Mac” and his fellow toadies carrying out the Trump/Miller unprecedented program of intentional human right abuses against the most vulnerable individuals (and actions directed against the pro bono lawyers and NGOs courageously trying to help them) will have to answer for their “crimes against humanity.”
How do you have a “dialogue” with someone like “Big Mac” whose insulting, condescending, false, and “in your face” prepared remarks, that he never got to give at Georgetown, in fact invited no such thing.
You can read Big Mac’s prepared compendium of lies that he never got to deliver here:
Here was my immediate reaction:
He falsely minimizes the powerful push factors, maximizes the pull factors (which his “maliciously incompetent” enforcement has contributed to), blames the legal system (the Constitution and refugee protection statutes that implement international treaties) and Congress (that is, Democrats, who have stood up for human rights), lies about failures to appear (this should be particularly galling to the many members of the Georgetown Community who have taken part in pro bono activities and know that pro bono representation actually solves that problem), ignores all reasonable solutions, and engages in mindless (and expensive) enforcement that maximizes the ability of oppressors while dehumanizing and killing some of the victims and virtually guaranteeing that there never will be a humane outcome. Seems like the “All-American solution” to me.
That being said, I wish folks had heard him out and asked him questions about his misstatements and lies during the Q&A. I actually would have liked to hear his answer when confronted by the studies that show that almost everyone who has a chance to be represented shows up for the hearings and why he is blocking, rather than facilitating, one of the key solutions — pro bono representation? Why it’s OK to negotiate Safe Third Country agreements with countries that essentially are war zones and have no functioning asylum systems? Why he claimed that detention conditions were improving and more detention was necessary when his own Inspector General said just the opposite? Why he took a contemptuous position before Judge Dolly Gee that indefinite detention of families addressed her requirements, when it clearly didn’t? Why he blamed Judges and laws for problems he has either caused or aggravated? There wouldn’t have been enough time, I suppose.
Talking about free speech, it’s not like the Trump Administration engages in any type of dialogue with the public or professional experts before unilaterally changing policies. And, it’s not like they provide any forum for opposing views. Indeed, even U.S. Legislators, Judges, State Officials, and their own Asylum Officers who speak out against the Administration’s biased and wrong-headed views are routinely attacked, threatened, slandered, mocked, and denigrated.
Yesterday, I did a Skype training session for D.C. Affordable Law. There, I actually had a “dialogue” with those attorneys courageously and selflessly trying to help asylum applicants through the unnecessarily complicated and intentionally hostile environment in Immigration Court and at the BIA that Big Mac and his propaganda machine along with scofflaws Sessions, Barr, and McHenry have created. There are many “winnable” asylum cases out there, even after the law has intentionally been misconstrued and manipulated by the Trump Administration in a racist attempt to disqualify all asylum seekers from Central America.
One thing we all agreed upon was that nobody, and I mean nobody, without competent representation and a chance to gather necessary documentation would have any chance of getting asylum under the current hostile environment. That means that when “Big Mac” and others tout “immediate decisions at the border” (sometimes by untrained Border Patrol Agents, no less, rather than professional Asylum Officers) what they REALLY are doing is insuring that few individuals have access to the necessary pro bono counsel and legal resources necessary to actually win an asylum case under today’s conditions. That’s an intentional denial of Constitutional, statutory, and human rights by Big Mac!
Then, Big Mac has the audacity and intellectual dishonesty to use bogus statistics generated by a system he and others have intentionally manipulated so as to reject or not even hear very legitimate asylum claims as “proof” that most of those claims are “without merit.” While I’m afraid it’s too late for those killed, tortured, or suffering because of Big Mac’s wrongdoing, I certainly hope that someday, someone does an assessment of all the improperly rejected, denied, and blocked asylum, withholding, CAT, SIJS, T, and U claims that should have been granted under an honest interpretation of asylum law and a fair adjudication and hearing process.
A real dialogue on solving the Southern Border would start with how we can get the necessary professional adjudicators and universal representation of asylum seekers working to make the system function fairly and efficiently. And that probably would mean at least 20% to 25% “quick grants” of strong cases that would keep them out of the Immigration Court and Courts of Appeals systems without stomping on anyone’s rights. It would also enable asylees to quickly obtain work authorization and start making progress toward eventual citizenship and full integration so that they could maximize their great potential contributions to our society.
For the money we are now wasting on cruel, inhuman, and ultimately ineffective enforcement gimmicks being promoted by “Big Mac,” we could actually get a decent universal representation program for asylum seekers up and running. Under a fair system, rejections would also be fair and as expeditious as due process allows, making for quicker and more certain returns of those who are not qualified and perhaps even sending a more understandable and acceptable “message” as to who actually qualifies under our refugee and asylum systems.
It’s highly unlikely that there will ever be any real dialogue on immigration and human rights as long as Trump and neo-Nazi Stephen Miller are “driving the train” and “Big Mac with Lies” and other like him are serving as their “conductors” on the “Death Express.” Trump and his policies have intentionally “poisoned the well” so that debate and constructive solutions are impossible. As long as we start, as Big Mac does, with a litany of lies and fabrications, and reject all truth and knowledge, there is no starting point for a debate.